An interesting thing happened yesterday. There was that whole inauguration, sure, but I witnessed a change closer to home that was pretty interesting.
First some background. My stepson is 7. His dad is obsessed with all things military, being from a military family (but not having enlisted himself. Details.) So Mr. K, as I call him in blogs, had grown up with the schema of good guys vs. bad guys, our side vs. their side, our military vs. theirs. Now combine this with the fact that he's 7; born 2 months after 9/11, alive through almost the entire W presidency. His background has always been this national talk of war, conflict, and terrorism. He has told us many times that he'll be a soldier someday, or develop the biggest and best weapon yet, or something of the sort.
And then Obama became President. Mr. K canvassed with me, went to the DNC with me, and got to see the result of all this election nonsense. His class watched the inauguration and by the time I picked him up from school his plans for the future have changed. Suddenly he wants to learn about conflict resolution; about how to get people to agree without fighting; about how to make a living by traveling the country teaching other people about how to get along.
It's hard to imagine the impact a speech can have on a young brain. We older folks watch and think "that was a good speech." For kids they may be getting introduced to new ideas, new ways of looking at the world, and new priorities. I think for kids Mr. K's age and older this change in leadership and tone is going to have a huge impact in the long run. If Obama can continue to inspire, be honest with us, and display real American values, Mr. K and his generation will grow up with a really great study in contrasts. The better option should be fairly obvious.